How to Remove Ink From Silk

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Silk is a delicate, typically expensive fabric that requires special care. Ink stains usually fall into one of three categories--ballpoint, water-based and, the most difficult to remove, permanent ink. Each type of ink can, at times, present a different challenge. Stains may be an inescapable part of life, but you do not have to lose your favorite outfit because of them.

  • Blot and soak. As soon as you notice the stain, take a sponge or piece of paper towel and blot (gently dab or rub) the stain. This will prevent the ink from spreading to other parts of the fabric. Soak the silk garment in cold water for about 15 minutes. Place the garment on a clean towel and allow it to dry.

  • Use an all-purpose cleaner. Place a clean towel or cloth underneath the ink stain. Spray a small amount of cleaner on the stain. Carefully blot the stain with a sponge. Wash and dry the garment as recommended on the care label.

  • Spray the stain with hair spray. Place a clean towel or cloth underneath the ink stain. Spray a small amount of alcohol-based hair spray on the stain. Carefully blot the stain with a sponge. Wash and dry the garment as recommended on the care label.

  • Use a borax mixture. Mix together 1 tbsp. each of borax, vinegar, milk and lemon juice. Apply the mixture to the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Using a sponge dampened with cool water, carefully blot the stain. Wash and dry the garment as recommended on the care label.

  • Use toothpaste. Apply plain toothpaste to the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Using a sponge dampened with cool water, carefully blot the stain. Wash and dry the garment as recommended on the care label. To avoid damaging your clothing, don't use a gel toothpaste, or a toothpaste that contains a whitening or bleaching agent.

  • Use isopropyl alcohol. Apply a small amount of rubbing alcohol to the stain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. Using a sponge dampened with cool water, carefully blot the stain. Wash and dry the garment as recommended on the care label.

Tips & Warnings

  • When trying any of the cleaning methods above, especially the all-purpose cleaner, be sure to test a small portion of the fabric first to see how it responds to the treatment.
  • Hand washing is recommended for most silk garments. Make sure to read your garment's care label carefully before washing or drying silk. Never wring or twist a silk garment after soaking it in water. Place the garment on a clean towel and allow it to air dry.

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